Sunday, April 28, 2013

SB2013 Part 2: Lopez Island

For Spring Break this year (back in early March) we flew out west to Seattle and headed north. We had planned a few day bike adventure in Canada and the San Juan Islands. Here are a few pictures from the second half: on Lopez Island! We stayed in Daisy's family cabin in the woods. Comfy, cozy, and out of the rain. We spent the day riding around Lopez and enjoying the two coffee shops.

Hiking at Watmough Point Park

A nice inlet - Watmough Bay, presumably

The happy couple

Reading in the cold cabin - before the fire was going

Delicious 'Italian dipping chocolate'

Sunset back in Bham

Readin' the paper
... And then we flew back to PA and returned to the Spring semester. But the best news is that summer is coming up soon, and we have some great adventures planned!

SB2013 Part 1: Harrison Hot Springs

For Spring Break this year (back in early March) we flew out west to Seattle and headed north. We had planned a few day bike adventure in Canada and the San Juan Islands. Here are a few pictures from the first half: our trip to Harrison Hot Springs in BC, Canada. Daisy's mom got us two nights as an anniversary gift! They dropped us off at the US-Canada border and we rode up to Harrison. During our day at Harrison, we rode part way around the lake, and of course spent some time in the Hot Springs!
Packin' up at Daisy's parents' house in NW Washington

Canadian rural neighborhood

Postcard worthy?

Harrison Lake - we arrived around sunset

I think they get a bit of rain around here. ;)

This park wasn't totally abandoned in early March... we were there!

Rainbow Falls + our bikes
(Site marked on map, but without a sign!)

Bicycle rest spot during lunch 
The Brompton folding bike performed well over the gravel road + gear

Obligatory[?] photos with the Sasquatch! They claim the legend started here.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Moving by Bicycle

When I quickly agreed with Daisy's idea to move across town by bicycle, I probably didn't know what I was getting myself into. However, I must say it was exciting and fun, and I didn't expect to earn 2 free massages!

One of our first loads.
Most of our trips involved Daisy's extracycle, with weight loaded as low as possible (for balance), and my commuter bike with a children's trailer attached. We borrowed the trailer from our friend Chris, who uses it for collecting random items. (We had ordered a bike trailer which could carry up to 200 lbs., but unfortunately it was on back order and didn't arrive in time.)

 Our route was about 1.5 miles long and crossed Atherton at my favorite spot: Foster Ave. This is a great spot to cross Atherton St. because there is a double crosswalk with flashing lights to gather cars' attention. What makes it my favorite spot, though, is that some drivers feel outraged that they have to slow down or stop for people walking across the street (as if they never saw the flashing lights...). Silly people.

Our new place is in a quieter section of town, and we have about 4x the space for the same price. Awesome. ... Even better: it is walking distance to Daisy's work so she can take the puppy easily. (that's another story)

Oh, and the massages! During one trip a guy ran out onto the street and asked us to stop for a minute. He said that he and his wife had been watching us and were excited about our move. So, they gave us 2 gift certificates for a 1 hour massage. Sweet. We really should schedule that appointment soon!
Futon. For the large items we needed to attach the trailer to the xtracycle
to get a larger carrying surface.

Futon frame. That is our new place in the background.

We ran into our friend Lori, who was conveniently riding a Brompton folding bicycle, for contrast.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Bikes Back!

Ah, finally, the bikes are all unpacked and we can take rides in State College! It took a couple weeks to ship them across the country, but last week Daisy picked them up from our local bike shop. You can see her below, riding her cargo bicycle (Xtracycle) to bring the two bikes home. Wow! (She sure knows how to haul stuff!)

Daisy transports two bicycles by bicycle!
An excellent example of 'random stuff we find' that is
then transported by bicycle.

Actually, I'm consistently impressed by the stuff Daisy hauls around -- a friend with suitcases heading to the bus stop, Jimmy's bags/boxes that he is moving across town, and random stuff we find. As she was loading the bikes on her bike a guy walked by and commented "That is what pick-up trucks are for." Well, sir, that is what cargo bicycles are for! Maybe you've seen those bumper stickers around that say 'my other x is a y,' we need one that says 'my other bike is a bike'!

Our garden in mid-July... needless to say we got a late start!

p.s.- We look forward to moving across town in two weeks - by bicycle! Maybe ~10 trips with the xtra and another bike with a trailer? We'll see!

Bonus photo: A squirrel takes a bagel from the 833 house. I've long been a promoter of
shutting the doors. Now I can add this to my list along with the skunk, possums, etc.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The victory lap - to the Peace Arch.

Yesterday Jason and I did it - we accomplished our goal of reaching the US-Canada border. Yippee!

The Peace Arch at the US-Canada border

On the 'abandoned' road
It is a little hard to believe that we really did it.  The final 35 mile ride from Bellingham to the Peace Arch was so easy - flat and beautiful along the bays of Northwest Washington.   Traffic was light, or even non-existent in portions.  We got to ride on roads that had been shut to car traffic for nearly 10 years after 9.11, as they are close to a refinery in the country.  It is amazing to see how the fields and forests are slowly reclaiming the side of the roads.  I used to love to ride out there and pretend it was the post apocalypse, and I was delivering food and medicine to isolated country communities.  Silly.

At Birch Bay

We made it to the Peace Arch and found my parents waiting for us... with cameras.  It was like the Paparazzi or something.  There is a great park right along the border that British Columbia and Washington State manage jointly.  It makes it possible to go see the boundary line and the monument without actually going through customs.  So we posed, of course, still a little incredulous that we had really done it.

Now we are preparing for our trip back to State College, and our re-entry into the real world.  We have learned a lot on this trip about simplicity, focus, and enjoying time together.  Also, about being nice to people.  The trip flew by as we pushed through challenging days and conditions.  Ultimately, I am thrilled that we rode border to border, but next time I am determined to schedule in more time to explore and rest and spend time with new friends we make along the road. 

Two nights ago we watched a movie called Ride the Divide (check it out on Netflix) about a race along the border to border mountain bike route available from Adventure Cycling.  I am now determined to ride the route (but not race it).   You should seriously make the time to watch this 80 minute documentary.  The goal of riding through some of the US and Canada's true wild places will keep me focused just long enough to complete my PhD. 

Thanks to all who followed along on our great adventure.  We'll probably post a few more pictures and stories as we settle back into a more stationary life over the next few weeks.  Hopefully, we'll find some adventures around State College too. 

Citrus was happy, too!
The 'Paparazzi'

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Oh Bellingham, Oh Bellingham...

We made it to Bellingham!!  Notice... the pouring rain.  Ha!
Yesterday evening around 5 pm we made it to my home turf - Bellingham, WA.  This city's unofficial slogan is "the city of subdued excitement", and that pretty much sums up our final full day riding.  We were excited, yes, but subdued by the drenching rain.  So very different from our first full day riding in southern California!  Tomorrow we will finish the trip by riding the final 30 miles to the US-Canada border, but first I'll fill you in on what has happened since Cashmere. 

On the shore of Lake Chelan

North of Cashmere is an amazing lake called Lake Chelan, where we camped for a night.  In future years (when we live closer), I hope to return here for some backpacking trips.  You see, the lake is a filled in glacial fjord type thing.  It is about a mile wide (at its widest) and an amazing 55 miles long.  It is also the third deepest lake in the US.  Wow!  It goes from central Washington wine country to deep in the Cascade mountains.  In fact, there is a tiny town deep in the mountains called Stehekin that you can only reach via float plane, foot, or boat.  They only got land line telephones in 2007!!  You can hike into this town from the Western side of the mountains, and then take a boat out and finally a bus back around.  Someday...  There are always so many places that we find on bike tour that we want to come back to.  The list is getting longer and longer.

Rinsing of Rainier cherries makes them look like goldfish
One of the perks to riding in Central and Eastern Washington is the availability of fresh produce.  Growing up in this state, I had no idea that the inundation of incredible cherries, apples, pears, and berries was special to this region.  Luckily, we were able to catch the very beginning of fruit season here.  We saw vast fields of cherries and pears, apples and apple packing factories.  We've been eating cherries from fruit stands and strawberries from the lowlands. Yum!  When on bike tour, it's hard to not eat massive amounts of the cherries.  Trust me, as I learned on a past tour in Eastern Washington, eating more than a pound of cherries in one sitting is NOT a good idea!

Winthrop - a 1900 themed town
  After riding north for a number of days, we hit the town of Winthrop.  This is the town where my parents had their very first date!  Actually, the town is hilarious.  It's been re-done to imitate a western town at the turn of the century.  The sidewalks are really wooden boardwalks,  and all the storefronts look like the wild west.  We were lucky to hit town on a perfect day of clear blue skies.  Once we left, we headed due West to tackle the final pass of the trip - the North Cascades.

Water gushing next to the road
Even after having ridden the incredible mountains of California, I still have to say that the North Cascades is my favorite pass of the trip.  I know, I know, Yosemite was epic, but the Cascades are so incredible, and the snow and jagged peaks continue for so many miles.  Take a look at the pictures to see!
Jason on the east side of pass - the mountains are
getting closer!

Near the high point of the North Cascades Highway.  A stunning
view of the snowy mountains.

We were incredibly lucky to ride the pass under clear blue skies.  There was still large amounts of snow next to the road, and the streams were all gushing with the snowmelt.  There were more than a dozen waterfalls next to the road, some of them very very high and impressive.  What a fantastic pass to finish the trip with.  
We descended to the West side of the mountains and rode alongside the Skagit river for many miles.  We could tell that the ecosystem was vastly different - so much green!  In fact, Washington is home to the only temperate rainforest in the lower 48.  The next day we experienced it.  Rain!

At first it was a drizzle.  Then it was a downpour.  

Jason on the road near Concrete, WA.  Notice the water...  everywhere.

Riding through the rainforest

Taking shelter from the rain with a cup of coffee.  Yum!

Our final full day of riding was bittersweet.  I'm on familiar roads now, where I've ridden countless training rides in my racing days.  For Jason, the roads and scenery are still new and exciting.  The rain did little to dampen our spirits, as the temperature was comfortable and we had very good rain gear.  It's just strange to reach the end of a trip.  Our goal, once so lofty and distant, is within easy reach.  That is exciting, but the reality of going back to the real world is staring us in the face.  I like my work and my friends in PA, but I love this West Coast so!  It's hard to go from the unrestrained freedom and adventure of bicycle touring to a cubicle and weekend adventures.  We'll do it though, because every day I'll be putting money away for the next BIG adventure.  Yes, it's already in the planning stages.

Wet. Wet. Wet.

The strawberries are giant in the Skagit river valley!
We are resting and enjoying Bellingham today, and tomorrow we'll take a quick jaunt up to the Peace Arch at the border, completing our border to border adventure.  What remains you ask?  The coast to coast sequel!!  
Enjoying laughter with my family.